Posted by: RFC Blogger from Bridgend | April 26, 2011

it could n’t last 26.4.11

Well it got as high as 8 wins on the trot, followed by a draw at Elland Road (I was there) and then a crushing defeat to practically relegated Sheffield United!

The ride was great while it lasted – and the Royals are statistically in the playoffs even if mathematically they could be caught. So for the second year running we have had a pretty good January to April term to just start to tread water right at the end. Last year we rose from relegation worries to within touching distance of the playoffs, this season we went from mid table mediocrity to almost automatic promotion.

One of my concerns when I was writing back in February about our run-in was the mixture of promotion chasing and relegation fighting teams we had to meet between then and the end of the season. I was worried that the Royals don’t seem to have that killer instinct to see games out and beat the opponents, and that the relegation fighting teams would want to win more than the Royals and we would not get much from these games. I was right – but this only came to fruition yesterday when Sheffield United who are all but mathematically relegated managed to turn around a 2:0 scoreline to beat the Royals at home 3:2.

Palace (A) 3 1
Middlesborough (H)  0 3
Ipswich (A) 3 3
Barnsley (A) 3 3
Portsmouth (H) 1 3
Preston (H)  1 3
Notts Forest (A) 1 3
Scunthorpe (A) 0 3
Leicester (H)  3 3
Leeds (H) 1 1
Sheff Utd (H) 1 0
  17 26
Coventry (A)  1  
Derby (H) 3  

This was the 13 game run in. By my reckoning at the time – 9 of the 13 teams we had to play would want to win more than we did. But then I did not count on an 8 game winning streak or a 13 game unbeaten run which sadly ended yesterday. Compared to the previous fixtures against these teams we won 9 more points and it is this that took us from loitering outside the play offs heading for an 11th finishing place to knocking on the door of automatic promotion to where we are now which is more or less safe in the play offs with the potential to finish in any of the four positions.

From the last ten games only Millwall gained more points than the Royals and over the last 8 games despite the faltering in the last two games we are still top of the form table above Cardiff, Norwich and Millwall.

Millwall 20
Royals 19
Cardiff 18
Norwich 17
QPR 15
Hull 12
Swansea 11
Leicester 11
Nott’m Forest 10
Burnley 10
Watford 7
Leeds 6

Looking ahead then – we play Coventry and then Derby on the last game of the season. Cardiff still have a chance of automatic promotion competing with Norwich, and Swansea could still go up if they win their remaining games and the teams above them lose both of theirs. Looking at the teams they face:

Swansea play Millwall – who may be this year’s dark horses for the last play off place, followed by Sheffield United who by then will surely be relegated and may be playing freely and without any cares in the world.

Cardiff play one nothing game against Middlesborough and one that by then could be a nothing game depending on how Burnley get on (their goal difference is effectively a point disadvantage).

Norwich play two mid table teams so look more likely to keep second place.

The Royals should be safe enough in the play offs, Millwall and Burnley can catch them but with the Royals goal difference there would have to be a cataclysmic collapse in our defence conceding 9 goals over two games, and Millwall scoring a similar amount to make the difference. I don’t count my chickens before they hatch – but that would be some turnaround for the form team – Reading.    

team Royals Swansea Cardiff Norwich
opponents Coventry (A)  Millwall  Middlesbrough Portsmouth 
  Derby (H) Sheff Utd Burnley Coventry
 current    Points  goal  possible
position Team current potential diff position
1 QPR 85 91 38 1
2 Norwich 80 86 24 2
3 Cardiff 79 85 25 3
4 Swansea 74 80 21 4
5 Royals 73 79 25 5
6 Nott’m Forest 69 75 12 6
7 Milwall 67 73 17 8
8 Burnley 67 73 5 7
9 Leeds 66 72 9 9
10 Hull 64 70 4 11
11 Leicester 63 72 3 10


Anyway other things to do today – so to finish:

Yet another exciting run in for the Royals – probably in the play offs – and hopefully a play off final at Wembley to look forward to. If I could have my way it would be Swansea automatic promotion, and then the Royals to win against Cardiff at Wembley. Cardiff though would be going to Wembley for the third time in three or four years without a win so far  – so you’d have to think third time lucky?

My other teams:

Cardiff and Swansea – their destiny is intertwined with the Royals now so it is every team for themselves – I’d like to see a Welsh team in the Premiership – but not at the expense of the Royals!

Looking at the bottom of the table – Crystal Palace should be safe with the goal difference over Sheffield United and Scunthorpe who are within 6 points with 2 games to go – but have much worse goal difference.

Brighton – are promoted and champions – the only compensation for not getting promoted this season – would be to play Brighton in their new stadium – but that can wait for another season!

Roll on Saturday!


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